As the world battles a ravaging pandemic, in an exclusive conversation with NewsX, Psychonnect held a riveting discussion on ‘Mental Health: The Next Invisible Pandemic’. The expert panellists were Diya Ganguly Mallick, psychotherapist (UK) and co-founder, Psychonnect, and Dr Eleanor Avinor, PhD and psychotherapist (Israel), and the audience included Ramya Aswathnarayana, associate psychologist and project coordinator, Psychonnect, Megha Rudrapati, art therapist and course coordinator, Psychonnect, and Shreyah Mantri, brand development manager, Psychonnect.
Addressing the various challenges of mental health, Diya said, “The problem with mental health is we don’t understand its pain points and triggers. Slowly it’s going to enter inside your body but one will still not know about it or understand its concern because it’s not tangible, it’s not visible. That is why as a professional, we want to raise awareness on the subject. To understand the wide spectrum mental health challenges can have, be it occasional instances of anger or the existential crisis of depression, these all fall under the realm of mental health. The work we are doing at Psychonnect is creating awareness for people to understand that this is a serious issue and there is no health without mental health.”
Psychonnect is a premier mental health platform that facilitates mental well-being, diagnostics, counselling, and therapy service. Talking about the thought behind founding the organisation, she said, “In the UK I had an opportunity to create an ecosystem that will merge the traditional approaches we have in India with empirical approaches of the West so that people can have a holistic treatment and get more awareness globally. We need more professionals to equip them with the right skills to go out and train people and address this issue unless and until we reach a stage where everybody is at least aware of their mental health and well-being.”
Dr Eleanor shared her insights on the mental challenges owing to the pandemic that we as a global community experienced, “Nowadays, stress and anxiety are everywhere and everybody has them. We need to know how to lower it, and how to understand what triggers us. Therefore, psychotherapy is important and it can help everybody. Violence in the family or the whole world is one of the main points that we deal with. Typically, a third of the world population is suffering from anxiety, depression, anger, or loneliness. It’s contagious and people are feeling upset especially because of the social distancing. People don’t have the contact that they want.”
Stressing on the fears that people have while seeking professional help and how stigmatised mental health issues continue to be, she elaborated “Many people don’t get help as they are afraid of the stigma. Others don’t have the money, sometimes it is expensive to get professional help, and sometimes there is no professional solution available. We’re trying to prepare professional solutions where anybody can go and get help. People have to feel accepted to be happy and everybody needs some sort of psychological help. People need somebody to discuss their problems with and they need help to look at their problems and dilemmas from a different perspective positively and effectively. We have patterns that we’ve learned as babies and we’re connected to these patterns. Sometimes they don’t work for us but they worked when we were babies. We have to learn to look at these patterns of behaviour, the way of thinking we have, and maybe change them.”
Talking about how it is possible to come up with a large scale of the pattern and the individual context in mental health and generalise something at that scale, Dr Eleanor shared insights from her professional experiences, “Not everything is biochemical. Our thoughts determine how we feel, and how we feel determines how we behave. We have to be giving you the thoughts and that’s not medicine. There are medical solutions for people who have schizophrenia or maybe manic depressive disorders that need medication. While some people need medication but many people need medication with psychotherapy and talking. I worked in a hospital for many years in the Psychiatric Unit. We had many clients, some of them received medication, we only talked to some of them while others received both. People need to talk.”
Taking steps to make mental well-being a lifestyle statement Psychonnect has come up with A-R-K (Awareness – Recognition – Knowledge) Charter which can be a self-healing tool for everybody. Throwing light on how ARK Charter aims to take the first steps towards understanding, appreciating, and respecting the relevance and importance of mental health and well-being, Diya told us, “Whether it’s depression, anxiety, trauma, or PTSD, you can visit our website, talk, and express your concerns. At the same time, we are building a PR network and support groups where we are bringing people who already have a history of mental illness so that they can share their experiences and people can learn from it.”
Ramya spoke about how to grasp the mental health challenges of children of various ages during pandemic who might not be able to self-diagnose. Dr Elenor said it’s important to see and understand how our children feel and that everybody needs somebody to love. Diya further added that it is crucial to understand that because of the Covid-19 related trauma it might be difficult for any child to express his/her concerns. “Children are usually attached to a routine of going to school, meeting friends, sitting in a particular classroom, and you’ve taken all those pleasures out of their lives and introduced a new form of learning, interacting with friends. This can be overwhelming, and they might not necessarily know what is stressing them out. For that reason, parents can spend some quality time with them, maybe go through family pictures and engage them in small things and perhaps through that you can tap into what is going on in their heads.”
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Delhi HC defers hearing to March 26 on petitions related to North East Delhi violence
New Delhi [India], February 25 (ANI): The Delhi High Court on Thursday said that it will hear a batch of petitions on March 26 related to the violence in the national capital in February last year.
A Division Bench headed by Chief Justice DN Patel listed the matter for March 26 and directed the registry to bring on record the reply copy filed by the Centre in a petition filed by a Rahul Roy.
The court was hearing various petitions seeking several directions in the matter.
Around 50 people have died in the violence in northeast Delhi, which ensued after clashes between two opposing factions over the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).
One of the petition was filed by Lawyers Voice, a group seeking direction to constitute a Special Investigation Team (SIT) and register an FIR against Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Manish Sisodia, Amanatullah Khan, Waris Pathan, Akbaruddin Owaisi and Mehmood Pracha for alleged hate speech.
In a petition filed by Ajay Gautam, it was sought an investigation by National Investigation Agency (NIA) to find out the “anti-national” forces behind the protests in connection with the CAA.
He urged the court to order an NIA probe to find out the role of the People’s Front of India (PFI) which is allegedly “funding, motivating and supporting the protests”.
Jamiat Ulama-I-Hind in its plea sought to set up a special investigative team under either a retired High Court or Supreme Court Judge. (ANI)
National security no longer limited to military, defense capabilities: Home Secy Ajay Bhalla
New Delhi [India], February 25 (ANI): Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla on Thursday remarked that the gap between internal security and external threats is decreasing and that national security was no longer limited to military and defense capabilities.
Speaking at a police K9 seminar, Bhalla said: “You are well aware that in today’s time, national security on all levels has been our highest priority. Earlier, national security was limited only to military and defense capabilities, but now in today’s time it is no longer limited to that. The gap between internal security and external threats is decreasing. Terrorism, drug smuggling and arms ammunition have increased the scope of our internal security.”
He said there are some organisations that operate outside of the country, send money and train terrorists, adding that the scope of internal security of India has widened.
The Home Secretary also highlighted the important role played by soldiers in election duties, citing the recent District Development Council (DDC) elections held in Jammu and Kashmir.
“Apart from ensuring internal security, jawans also play important roles in election duties. Recently, elections were held in Jammu and Kashmir to strengthen the roots of democracy. The DDC polls were held and it was a peaceful election where the public also participated in a good number, while local police Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) and the Army played an important role.”
“The voting percentage was good, it means people came out fearlessly to vote. The CAPFs play an important role and the K9 team equally played an important role,” he said.
Lauding the role of the police K9 squad, Bhalla said: “Dog squads help provide support to our efforts. They have been at our side and will continue to remain. They have proved their contribution to defense and security.”
He further said the role of dog squads has been increased at border posts and airports, adding that there has been an effort to promote breeding operations.
“In case of the Police K9, Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) has been initiated by the Home Ministry. Earlier, there was no step issued for the evaluation of dog squads. Last year, an SOP was issued for this purpose. The Home Ministry has left no stone unturned in this direction,” he said.
The Home Secretary further expressed confidence in ensuring successful inclusion of the dog squads in the national security teams. (ANI)
‘Neta’ used to denote respect but now it has become offensive term: Yogi Adityanath
Lucknow (Uttar Pradesh) [India], February 25 (ANI): Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Thursday said earlier the term ‘Neta’ used to denote respect but due to the unruly behaviour of some leaders it has gradually become an offensive term.
While addressing the state assembly on Thursday, Adityanath lashed out at the opposition members who make noises during the session. Yogi said, “If someone thinks that they will be praised if they are unruly in the Assembly and shout in the House, then I think they are mistaken. People don’t take it positively. It is the duty of all of us to set an example with our conduct.”
He further added that before independence, the term ‘Neta’ used to denote respect but gradually after independence it started feeling like an offensive term. “Everyone is responsible for that,” the chief minister said. (ANI)
Kerala: Rahul Gandhi takes dip in Arabian Sea with fishermen
Kollam (Kerala) [India], February 25 (ANI): Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday took a dip in the Arabian Sea with fishermen during his visit to Kerala’s Kollam district to campaign for the upcoming assembly elections.
“Every morning our nation’s fisherfolk work tirelessly to provide for millions of Indians. The work they do is difficult and painstaking but incredibly rewarding. It was an honour and a privilege to spend time with them and experience just a fragment of the hard work they put in,” he wrote on Instagram.
Earlier on Tuesday, the Congress leader slammed BJP-led central government and LDF government in Kerala and said the party will come up with the “people’s manifesto” for the forthcoming assembly which will reflect the voice of the residents of the state.
Gandhi has also courted controversy with his ‘MP in North’ statement, with several ministers, including Union Minister Prakash Javadekar, BJP president JP Nadda and Union Minister of State for Finance, Anurag Thakur hitting out at the Wayanad MP for his statements and have accused him of creating a ‘north-south’ divide.
Kerala is likely to face assembly elections in April-May this year. (ANI)
Grievance redressal system mandatory for OTT, digital portals
New Delhi [India], February 25 (ANI): The new guidelines issued by the government of India on Thursday mandated a grievance redressal system for over the top (OTT) and digital portals in the country.
Briefing the media about the development, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that though the government welcomes criticism and the right to dissent, “but it is very important for the users of social media to have a forum to raise their grievance against the misuse of social media.”
He said that concerns have been raised over the years about rampant abuse of social media, and the Ministry has held widespread consultations and prepared a draft in December 2018.
“There’ll be two categories, intermediary which can be social media intermediary and significant social media intermediary. They will have to have a grievance redressal mechanism, you will also have to name a grievance officer who shall register the grievance within 24 hours and disposal in 15 days,” he said.
“If there are complaints against the dignity of users, particularly women – about exposed private parts of individuals or nudity or sexual act or impersonation etc – they will be required to remove that within 24 hrs after a complaint is made. This is designed to respect the dignity of women,” he added.
Prasad said that significant social media has to do three things, “First, they will have to have a chief compliance officer residing in India responsible for ensuring compliance of the act and the rules. Second is a nodal contact person who should reside in India for 24X7 coordination with law enforcement agencies. Also, they have to appoint a resident grievance officer who shall perform the grievance redressal mechanism as indicated. They also will have to publish a monthly report about the number of complaints received and the status of redressal,” he stated.
Talking about OTT platforms, Union Minister Prakash Javadekar said that the government has decided to have a three-stair mechanism for OTT platforms.
“OTT and digital news media will have to disclose their details. We are not mandating registration, we are seeking information. There should be a grievance redressal system in OTT platforms and digital portals. OTT platforms will have to have a self-regulating body, headed by retired Supreme Court or High Court judge or very eminent person in this category,” he said.
Content on OTT platforms has recently fuelled controversy, leading to public outcry and the booking of makers of some programmes.
Union Minister of Information and Broadcasting Prakash Javadekar on January 31 announced that the Ministry will soon release guidelines on OTT platforms as it had been receiving a lot of complaints against some serials available here. (ANI)
MoS Muraleedharan condemns killing of RSS worker, demands strict action
Thiruvananthapuram (Kerala) [India], February 25 (ANI): Union Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan on Thursday condemned the brutal killing of a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) worker at Vayalar in Alappuzha by an armed group.
“Condemn the brutal killing of @RSSorg Swayamsevak Nandu R.Krishna at Vayalar in Alappuzha by an armed group with direct links to PFI. The Jihadi – Left nexus is fueling extremism & costing valuable lives. ,” he said.
He also urged Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to take strict action and bring the perpetrators to justice.
“@vijayanpinarayi Kerala must take strict action and bring the perpetrators to justice. @BJP4Keralam will fight these extreme elements and make Kerala a better place for all. GoI views this alarming situation seriously & will take the required steps to counter it,” he added.
An RSS worker was allegedly killed by Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) members after a clash erupted between two groups in Cherthala, Vayalar yesterday night.
Police have arrested eight SDPI workers in connection with the murder of an RSS worker on Wednesday.
According to the police, the deceased was identified as Rahul Krishna alias Nandu, a native of Vayalar.
Three RSS workers and six SDPI workers were also injured in the clash that took place around 8 pm. There is a heavy deployment of police in the area following the incident.
A fund collection by SDPI activists on Tuesday was questioned by RSS workers and both organisations on Wednesday took out separate marches which ended up in the violence. (ANI)
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